Piyush Goyal also said that the government is taking steps for faster grant of patents and it will soon reduce fees for MSME and startups.
Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal on Saturday asked the film industry to provide minimum wages, healthcare protection and some kind of social security cover to support staff for their better quality of life. Goyal also expressed concern at the unregulated OTT platforms, where the content is sometimes objectionable and contains misinformation. “Another area of concern which has bothered me has been the area of insurance, healthcare and pensions, or social welfare for all the stakeholders in this industry,” he said at Ficci Frames 2020.
Goyal said several people like spot boys/girls are involved in a movie or serial or advertising, and the industry should make an effort to ensure a better quality of life for the 26 lakh people engaged in the sector. “I do wish the industry along with self regulation would also look at self improvement for the lives and the future of these 26 lakh stakeholders of the industry. There must be some effort to have an orderly minimum wage to have healthcare protection or insurance, some kind of social security. “I do wish the industry would try to create a database and ensure that every stakeholder gets a fair deal and a better quality of life, gets a fair wage for their work and is able to take care of their children,” Goyal said.
Talking about censorship on the over-the-top platforms (OTT) platforms, the minister said all the stakeholders need to engage deeply on this subject. There are certain limits or challenges to allow global content to resonate indiscriminately, Goyal said, adding while he appreciates self-regulation, but “sadly” the industry is fighting “cats and dogs” even while trying to settle copyright related issues.
“I certainly do not want my child growing up to be exposed to some of the stuff that I see on a lot of channels, a lot of international transmissions that come into our homes. I do believe that there is a lot of misinformation also and a lot of very poor portrayal of India as a country and Indian society, that is reflected on,” he said.
Citing an example, the minister said he was a vocal critic of a famous artist who had painted nude paintings of Hindu goddesses and “I am certainly not going to tolerate that and that kind of creative independence or expression is not something that we can be proud of as a nation”.
“The Minister expressed concern at the unregulated OTT platforms, where the content is sometimes objectionable, contains misinformation, portrays poorly our country and society, and is just not worth watching with family,” an official statement said. So, this is a subject that everybody needs to engage much deeper, Goyal said. He added that may be other countries have had complete freedom to do and say what they want and show, but look at the levels of cultural depravity that is there in many countries.
“Look at what their children are going through, look at the broken families…look at the kind of bad habits that children develop at a very young age in many parts of the world and I still think not that India is totally isolated from a lot of these things. “But I still think that large parts of India and many homes in India have been able to maintain some sense of discipline and some good moral upbringing,” he said, adding “but you can not be glorifying, for example drugs”.
The minister was commenting on the views of Siddharth Roy Kapur, President Producers Guild Of India, who in his remarks said that there is a growing talk about censorship when it comes to the OTT platforms. OTT has given an opportunity to be able to be innovative, and creative and “it is very important for us to look at the sector very sensitively and look at self-regulation rather than any large centralised regulation within the sector in order to be able to help it to thrive. Because going forward it will be crucial for us to maintain the creativity within this model,” he said.
Further, the minister said that investments in cinema halls and multiplexes will not come if they would release their movies first on OTT platforms. Goyal said that cinema halls, multiplexes are closed due to COVID-19 and the industry did support their demand for not showing movies on OTT, in such a scenario. He added that it may sound exciting in the short-run to release films on OTT platforms as “you may get more money” their but predatory pricing has never done good for any industry.
In the long-run if cinema halls would close down and there will be a proliferation of OTT networks, he noted. Goyal said that self-regulation has worked good in several areas but it has also collapsed in certain segments. “I would urge your industry to really stand up to this challenge and demonstrate that by self-regulation, the industry can and will provide some sanity and maintain high cultural and traditional ethos of the country or moral values that our country is proud of,” he added.
Goyal also said that the government is taking steps for faster grant of patents and it will soon reduce fees for MSME and startups. On attracting film makers to shoot in the country, the minister said he will be talking to states and other stakeholders on the issue so that they do not go to Hungary or UK or Spain to shoot films. Indicating that it may not be possible for the government to provide fiscal incentives to the industry, he said the idea of framing a single window clearance could be something Ficci and the film industry could help to devise.